Pastor Gregory Says… (7/6/16)

Pastor Greg with childrenWe will have a Summer Open-Forum Parent Meeting this Sunday July 10th after church service – I hope you and your family can join! We are hoping to hear from you: how are things going? how would you like things to go as we move forward?  Let’s think together as we conspire new and creative ways to form intergenerational connections and faithful followers of Jesus Christ. I will also be preaching this Sunday and am exciting to explore Matthew 25 where Jesus reminds us of our mission to care for “the least of these” among us. It’s a challenging text for us with so much privilege but a welcoming parable for us as we begin to turn our whole lives over to God’s Beloved Community. I will see you Sunday and hope to hear some of your ideas for the ministry we shape together.

Much love, Gregory

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This Week at First Baptist (4/15/15)

CalendarThis Week at First Baptist

  • Thursday, April 16, 5:00 pm: Church Council in the Parlor.
  • Thursday, April 16, 7:30 pm: Church Choir in the Parlor. New voices are always welcome to join.
  • Friday, April 17, 8:00 pm: The Choral Project presents “Chiaroscuro” in the sanctuary, choral masterpieces by contemporary classical composers focused on the contrast of light and dark.  See choralproject.org for ticket information (including free tickets for students high school and younger.
  • Saturday, April 18, 11:00 – 1:00: Food, Games, Social Time in the church parlor. Please bring sandwich makings, sweets, or beverages. Invite some teens to join us – from your neighborhood or church. For more information, contact Dona Smith-Powers at donamaysp@sbcglobal,net.
  • Sunday April 19:
    10:00 AM: Worship and Sunday School:
    “Alive in a Global Uprising: The Uprising of Discipleship,”
    Pastor Rick preaching.
    11:30 AM Adult Spiritual Formation: An update on the work of the United Campus Christian Ministry at Stanford.
  • Sunday, April 19, 12:30 PM: Church Finance Committee in the Parlor.
  • Monday, April 20: Spire deadline
  • Tuesday, April 21, 10:30 AM: Bible Study at the Terraces of Los Altos. We will meet at Marylea McLean’s apartment, 373 Pine Lane, #4204, Los Altos.

LOOKING AHEAD:

  • Thursday, April 23, 10:00 AM: Women’s Brunch at Corner Bakery Cafe, 3375 El Camino Real, Palo Alto. All women of our church community are invited. Please join us.
  • Sunday, April 26: Quarterly Business Meeting

Valentine’s Day Potluck February 14

Valentine's DayVALENTINE’S DAY POTLUCK FOR LOVERS OF ALL AGES!

Friday, February 14, 6:00 PM.

Bring a date! It’s time to gather and celebrate love in its many forms. Romance. Family. Divinity. We’ll gather at 6:00pm for a meal and fellowship. Bring some Valentines to share. We’ll have a “Valentine Grab Bag.” Everyone gets to be someone’s Valentine, but you won’t know whose until you open the card!

Here’s your chance to have a little fun and show a little love. This is an intergenerational event for our entire FBCPA community.

Wear red for Pentecost!

Joanne Jones plays violin
Joanne Jones plays violin

Thanks again to Joanne Jones for her lovely music last Sunday.  It was also a delight to have so many from her family, including all 5 of her beautiful daughters with us in worship.  In spite of her decision to retire from the Palo Alto Philharmonic after 25 years, Joanne still plays with grace and beauty.  And, of course, she also oversees our hospitality, in addition to all the other ways she serves our congregation.  We are blessed to have her.

This Sunday is Pentecost.  Everyone is encouraged to wear red (or orange or yellow – something to help symbolize the tongues of flame that lit on the disciples’ heads when the Holy Spirit came to them.)  The children and youth created some stunning décor for the sanctuary.  This will be an intergenerational service in which we celebrate the “birthday of the church.”  So come prepared to join in the festivities.

We began an excellent series in Adult Spiritual Formation, with our consideration of Cathleen Falsani’s book, Sin Boldly: A Field Guide for Grace.  We will continue the conversation this week and next.  Then on June 2, we will be privileged to have Cathleen with us for worship and Adult Spiritual Formation.  Invite someone to come along for this exploration of grace and to celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit as well.  Looking forward to seeing you Sunday at 10.

May God’s new thing flourish within us and among us.
Pastor Rick

Pastor Rick: November 1

Rev. Rick MixonIt’s the time of year when our thoughts turn to budgets and stewardship. The finance committee has already met to draft a budget for next year. Now, in November, we come to ask you to underwrite that budget with your tithes and offerings. There’s been a lot of talk in this year’s election about the middle class. Well, we are a middle class church, I think. We’re not rich but we are also not without resources. Those who built this church and cared for it over the past 119 years have provided a legacy of resource and giving that keeps us comfortable. For this responsible stewardship over many years, we should be deeply grateful.

This has been an eventful year in the life of the congregation as we considered the careful work of our Strategic Planning Task Team and then voted to stay in our building, directing our efforts and our resources toward renewing our congregational life. To this end we have been working in the areas of worship, community life, sharing our space and reaching out to the larger community.

Over the past several months, we have been looking in depth at why and how we worship. This conversation has gone on in worship services, in Sunday School and in Adult Spiritual Formation, in business meetings and in informal interactions. A major focus of this work has been when and how we encounter God. We have begun to consider what it might mean to “practice the presence of God.” This involves not only what we expect from worship, but also what we bring to it. It asks how we prepare ourselves to encounter God in our formal worship time and in our daily lives.  Currently, we are doing some of this work under the wise and inspirational guidance of Jennifer Davidson, Assistant
Professor of Worship and Theology at the American Baptist Seminary of the West. This exploration of worship is invaluable and crucial to our ongoing life  as a congregation – a church whose mission is rooted in worshiping God. I encourage ach of you to participate as fully as you can in the service of our vision of renewal.

Then, we have been looking for and creating opportunities for us to gather as a community.    We  have increased our monthly intergenerational potlucks to twice a month and added a Friday night  time for our youth as well as a monthly brunch for the women of the congregation.  Everybody does not at‐ tend all of these events, but if you have attended any of them, you can attest to their value in getting to know one another better, in sharing a meal and in laughing, playing, learning and praying together.  We have also created a face‐ book page and a twitter account as a means of connecting to one another and to the wider community through social media.  We are currently working on ways to improve and expand these modern means of communicating and community‐building.

We determined as part of our renewal plan that, though we have a lot of wonderful community activities going on here, we want to broaden and strengthen the spiritual life that’s contained in and spread out from this space.  One avenue of exploration was to share the space with another congregation.  After some prayer and consideration, we have decided to pursue the possibility of planting a new congregation in this space.  To this end, we have been in con‐ versation with
several people about planting a Chinese or pan‐Asian congregation here.  Planting a new church means we recognize the need for a congregation that reaches out to people and meets needs that we do not in our current configuration.  A church plant will look and function differently but work co-operatively with our own congregation.  By sharing the space with a congrega‐ tion that we help to create, we are doing more than just renting space.  We are looking for opportunities to share in outreach, education, community and wor‐ ship as well as in stewardship of our facilities.  I am very excited by the preliminary conversations we have had and am looking forward to seeing how they will unfold in the days ahead.

Our outreach to the larger community includes the experimentation we are doing online and with social media as well as with how we present ourselves to the many people who are in and out of our building.  Our hospitality is a keyelement to cultivate as we invite others to join our various activities and programs. How do we say personally, in print, online, in our décor and throughout our space, “You are welcome here. Come, see what we’re about. Come, meet Jesus and encounter the gospel. Come, join us in practicing the presence of God”? As we discussed at the Quarterly Business Meeting in October, I am planning to use my sabbatical to complete the Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction at San Francisco Theological Seminary. I’ve long been concerned for those who claim to be “spiritual but not religious,” wondering how and where that spirituality is nurtured. Does the church have a role in providing resource for those who make this claim and what would that resource look like? My concern for the spiritual life of our congregation as well as the wider community has led me to this program. It is my hope that it will lead to a deepening of my own spiritual life, to that of our congregation and move us toward spreading spiritual nurture beyond our congregation as a means of outreach to the wider community.

Well, this has turned out to be a rather lengthy report on where we are with renewal. Initially, I was going to write about gratitude, but it seems important that you know the kinds of things we are trying to accomplish when we ask
you for your support. Frankly, I am grateful for this “middle class” congregation. Our resources are not unlimited, but as our theme for the year suggests, we are “a caring and generous people.” I see this every day in the life of FBCPA. I see it in our history and I believe it is there for our future. I am grateful that you are a caring and generous people and I trust that, with God’s guidance and grace, you will continue to sustain that identity as we move into the future.

Pastor Rick

Pastor Rick: October 24

Rev. Rick MixonThere are two significant events to look forward to this weekend.  On Friday evening in the Fellowship Hall we’ll celebrate our third annual intergenerational potluck and pumpkin carve.  Come with food to share and your best creative instincts for making jack-o-lanterns.  If there’s time, we’ll also do apple-bobbing and sing some pumpkin carols.  There is bound to be fun and fellowship for everyone.

Then beginning Sunday we start on a three week journey exploring our life as a worshiping congregation led by Jennifer Davidson who teaches worship at the American Baptist Seminary of the West.  This is a unique opportunity to work with someone who has chosen worship as the focus of her career.  In our mission statement, we say that we are a church whose mission is to worship God.  We list as the first – and I believe most important – pillar of our identity.   Everything else we do flows from our worshipping community.  Worship means many things to each of us.  We come to it with the ideas, beliefs, experiences of a life-time.  But what does it mean for us to worship God as the community we are today.  Jennifer will help us explore this in depth so it’s important that we have everyone as involved as we possibly can.

Carolyn, Lynn, Tripp and I had the opportunity to work on worship with Jennifer this spring at the PCBA Spring Annual Conference.  We were impressed and excited by the way she worked with that group.  We’re looking forward to the gifts she will bring to us the next three weeks.

So don’t’ forget – Friday night at 6:00 PM in the Fellowship Hall for fun and fellowship; then Sunday morning at 10:00 AM in the sanctuary for worship, sharing and learning.  Bring a family member, friend, colleague or neighbor (or three!) to join us.  Strangers are welcome, too!

May God bless us and keep us on the way,

Pastor Rick